Sat, Jul


DISMISSED national coach, Alvin Corneal has accused the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association of misleading the public about the reasons behind his sacking.

In a letter to the media, Corneal charged that statements offered by TTFA Vice-President Harold Taylor were unfounded. He said he was inclined to believe that he was dismissed for frank and honest evidence before the Commission of Enquiry.

"As to my dismissal, forgive me if I do not believe that the decision has anything to do with the reasons offered. I have heard rumours that my frank and honest evidence at the Football Commission has been just a bit more than some people could take," Corneal said in the letter made public this week.

He added, "If this is the case, I am sorry to hear their plight. I believe that it is my civic right to respond to a summons which was sent to me I answered the questions factually and supplied proof on most occasions."

Corneal, a former national player, said he considered his contribution to the enquiry to be in the interest of the public and never intended to cause pain to anyone.

A Commission of Enquiry was set up by Government to investigate overselling of tickets for last year's World Cup qualifying match between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States at the National Stadium on November 19.

At the time Corneal was serving in the capacity of Sports Advisor to the Ministry of Sports and was privy to the budget submitted in March, 1989. Submissions were made to the Ministry of Sport for funds by a World Cup Organising Committee on behalf of the T&TFA.

Corneal had appeared before the Commission on October 11, 1990 and produced evidence to show that the "Road To Italy" budget was inflated.

He reported that, "the airfares, hotel accommodation and other expenses quoted for overseas matches was a vast difference between the figures given in the budget and those obtained from two local travel agents."

In respect of hotel accommodation for overseas matches, the World Cup committee presented a figure of TT 112,000 dollars while Corneal claimed in his calculations that it was just over TT 35,300 dollars.

Said Corneal, "I based my figures on the fact that we were taking a normal national team. The first thing is there is hardly any likehood, unless somebody wants to be absolutely extravagant, to have one player per room. Usually coaches place two or three players to a room."

In his letter, Corneal also revealed that the "Revenge Game" against the United States, which was played in North Carolina on Saturday, September 15, was arranged without the knowledge of the managerial and technical staff.

"This match had been advertised all across North Carolina for just over two months and I, as national coach, was unaware of it. I called the TTFA secretariat, especially assistant secretary Clarence Moe, who confirmed that he did not know anything about the match and this was up to August 7," Corneal said.

Corneal said on his return home from a lecture/coaching stint in the United States, he called for an urgent meeting to unearth details and it was then that TTFA President Peter O'Connor said he had arranged the match since his trip to Italy during the World Cup.

Corneal said he was promised a reason, within four days, why the Trinidad team was committed to the game but he did not get it.

He also defended his decision as national coach to declare matches against Cameroon and the Soviet Union as "unacceptable." "I am trying to build a team for the future and any sensible football enthusiast would understand that this is not the time to face world class teams like Cameroon and Soviet Union. When we play those teams, we want to be in with a chance to force their best performances with a squad that is physically and mentally ready," he remarked.